Asia’s cricket giants gear up for World Cup | Cricket News

Asian cricket giants India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will get one last chance to assess each other ahead of October's 50-over World Cup when the Asian Cup gets underway on Wednesday. Fierce rivals India and Pakistan could meet up to three times if they claim victory in the six-nation continental championship. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are co-hosts, a hybrid model agreed after World Cup hosts India refused to tour Pakistan. The final will take place in Colombo on September 17th.

Babar Azam's Pakistan, who became the world's top ODI team after beating Afghanistan 3-0 last week, open their campaign at home to Asia Cup debutants Nepal in Multan on Wednesday.

Azam, who has 113 runs in the Afghanistan series, leads a side that includes a three-pronged fast bowling attack with Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf.

World Cup hosts India, led by Rohit Sharma, will open their much-anticipated clash against Pakistan on Saturday in Pallekele.

India and Pakistan, who only meet in international tournaments due to long-standing political tensions in both countries, are expected to meet again in the Super Four stage and could face off in the final for the third time.

“It's not just about Pakistan, there are other teams too,” Rohit said of the hype surrounding the clashes between Pakistan and the two rivals who are set to meet in Ahmedabad on October 14 at the Over-50s World Cup.

“Sri Lanka won the Asian Cup last year. So there are other teams that are playing good cricket and will challenge us.”

– ‘Test us yourself' –
Rohit said the Asian Cup was the perfect place to “test ourselves, try to put pressure on ourselves and respond to that pressure”.

India's clout was boosted with the return of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer alongside Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and Rohit.

The 50-year-old World Cup begins on October 5 in India.

Sri Lanka, who won the Asian Cup in Dubai last year when it was staged as a Twenty20 tournament, were wracked with injuries ahead of Thursday's opener against Bangladesh in Kandy.

Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera is all but eliminated from the tournament with a shoulder injury and leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga has at least doubts about group games after missing the Lanka Premier League final eight days ago with a thigh strain.

Bangladesh have had a difficult preparation as Tamim Iqbal resigned as captain and missed the tournament with a back injury while trying to get fit for the World Cup.

Experienced all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was re-appointed as captain until the end of the World Cup. He previously managed Bangladesh in 50 one-day internationals between 2009 and 2017.

Afghanistan can cause trouble with their powerful spin attack from Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi, despite the recent loss to Pakistan.

They also have in-form batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who scored 151 in the second game against Pakistan.

Minnows Nepal could face a baptism of fire as they take on India and Pakistan in Group A. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan make up Group B.

The top two teams in each group advance to the Super Four, with the top two teams going head-to-head in the finals.

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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